From Confucius to Oprah, people have preached compassion for centuries. But how often is it actually put into practice?

We may know that we should “treat others the way we wish to be treated”, but the reality – particular in the face of a perceived injustice – just isn’t that easy. Compassion is hardwired into our brains, yet is constantly pushed back by our more primitive instincts for selfishness and survival.

Provocative religious thinker, Karen Armstrong, knows this. Yet she will take to our pulpit to offer an impassioned call to cultivate and expand our capacity for compassion. Drawing on material ranging from the spiritual character of the world religions to the findings of contemporary neuroscience, she’ll outline concrete ways of enhancing our compassion and putting it into action in our everyday lives.

Karen Armstrong is a British author and commentator who is the author of twelve books on comparative religion. A former nun, she went from a conservative to a more liberal and mystical faith. Armstrong first rose to prominence in 1993 with her book, A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, an international best seller that is now required reading in many theology courses. She won the TED Prize in 2008 which helped to launch her Charter for Compassion, a document around which religious leaders can work together for people. Her new book, ’12 Steps to A Compassionate Life’ was published in 2011

This secular sermon took place at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London on Sunday 20 November 2011

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